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Cumbria Travel Tips

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Ambleside

The Drunken Duck - just outside town - is well worth a visit. Food was great - Andrea

Ambleside Town Details

Arnside

Arnside is a quiet haven for a day of doing nothing very much, but in wonderful surroundings and with pleasant facilities to hand. There are good pubs, a terrific pie shop and café, a sweet shop with a huge variety of chocolate bars, chocolate boxes and sweets from the area and from childhood memory for those of a certain age. And it may have the best fish and chip shop in the world, with the crispiest-outside-fluffiest-inside-hand-cut-planks of fried potato you could ever hope to stumble across. The chippie is on the bend at the viaduct end of the main street. At the sea end of the front there is a walk that continues round the headland, with plenty of fossils to be spotted by the keener eye. Nature is bountiful too in the views, with the foothills of Cumbria in the distance. The Arnside viaduct is a splendid Victorian remnant still carrying trains over the Kent estuary to Grange-over-Sands (another place looted from Lancashire). And there is even something for the extreme sports types: Arnside has an impressive rip-tide signalled by the coastguard station to warn fishermen to quit the mudflats (and care and local knowledge is needed here, the warning signs are serious) before it rushes in, sweeping daring canoeists before it. There is even a pretty little pier, projecting about twenty yards into the estuary, and another great place for landing the flooks and other flatties fishermen come here for.

Arnside Town Details

Barrow in Furness

Furness Abbey is not anywhere near as well known as say Fountains or Tintern, but is an awe inspiring sight. Founded by King Stephen in the early 12th century it grew into the second most powerful Cistercian house in England, controlling the wool trade and the iron industry in the region. What remains are the ruins of magnificent red sandstone buildings, some still soaring into the skies. English Heritage runs the place, and entrance for adults is £3.50, well worth the price. The woodlands surrounding the Abbey make a wonderful backdrop, especially in the autumn when the red and gold leaf colours almost seem to merge with the ageing stones. There is room for the kids to run around, but parents need to be aware of the unguarded watercourse and the sometimes slippery stones. And beware of the shop with gear the kids will clamour for – chain-mail helmets and bows and arrows along with some well chosen books and plenty of other stuff. Parking is easy, right outside the door of the visitor centre unless it’s a busy day. The guide book is £2.99 and is gives a good insight into the place. The Cistercian monks worked for a living, particularly so in the early days of the foundation, and there are some surprising elements of their history – at Piel Island off Barrow there is Piel Castle, which was a fortified storehouse for their wool and other goods, often smuggled by the monk to maximise their returns! And Piel Castle was a defence against the marauding Scots, as was Dalton Castle a few miles to the north of the Abbey. Dalton Castle was also built by these “white monks” (so-called because of the colour of their habits), a place of refuge during the long border conflicts and armed raids of the Middle Ages, when the six-foot-thick walls protected those who made it inside against the reivers and the Scottish armies.

The Furness Line between Lancaster and Barrow-in-Furness
Forget the Blue Train and the Orient Express (unless you have won the lottery or work in merchant banking). There are some great little train journeys all over England, some on private lines run by enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, others on the national system. One of the best is the Furness line between Lancaster and Barrow-in-Furness. Lancaster is easily reached off the M6, or by trains from Manchester and Preston. The Furness line branches off to the west, and takes in some glorious countryside. Or it can be joined at Carnforth on the West Coast Main line. After Lancaster the Furness line passes through Carnforth, famed as the station used in Brief Encounter. Next the line passes behind Silverdale, a quiet little town with some lovely walks by the sea (if you can see it – this is Morecambe Bay and when the tide goes out you wonder if it is ever coming back). After Silverdale is Arnside, another quaint resort without an amusement arcade in sight. And at Arnside the real fun begins, with the first of the line’s two viaducts, this one crossing the Kent estuary, the train’s passing marked by a an evocative and sonorous rattling – the sort of noise trains should make when they go over a bridge or viaduct. Once over the Kent the line follows the shore to Grange-over-Sands, the genteel Edwardian and Victorian resort where it is hard to imagine anyone ever swearing. A little further one and the line cuts across the Cartmel Peninsula from Kent’s Bank to Cark and Cartmel. It is a hike to Cartmel from the station, but the magnificent Priory Church and the lovely old Gatehouse are well worth seeing. The Priory Church is imposing, saved from the dissolution by its use as the parish place of worship. Cartmel itself is a beautiful settlement, the sort of place where you find good bookshops and great pub food (this is the home of the sticky toffee pudding after all) rather than souvenir shops. And there is the racecourse too, possibly the prettiest in the land. After Cark the line has its second viaduct, across the Leven estuary. Sweeping on to Ulverston, home of the famous Laurel and Hardy museum – Stan Laurel was born here, and more spiritually of nearby Swarthmoor Hall, which can claim to be the home of Quakerism. After Ulverston the line stops at Dalton, where the castle can be seen, though this is not anywhere near as impressive a sight as Furness Abbey that the train passes as it heads to Roose and Barrow-in-Furness, the end of the line, though it is also the start of the line for the Cumbrian Coast to Whitehaven, Workington and Carlisle, a route that rivals the Furness line for its scenic nature.

Barrow in Furness Town Details

Bowness on Windermere

CORRECTION....Not an enquiry but a little correction! In your history of Bowness-on-Windermere (generally enjoyable), you state that the name "Birthwaite" was lost because the railway company called their station "Bowness". This is not true. Although I believe the station at the end of the branch line from Oxenholme may, for a short time, have been called Bowness, it was soon renamed "Windermere" in order to attract visitors. The village that grew up around the station came to be known as "Windermere", after the station, and hence the name Birthwaite fell into general disuse, except by Bowness natives. In any case Birthwaite was never a village; it was a farm and a tiny hamlet at most. The township in which it was situated was (and is) called Applethwaite. Your reference to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway implies a connexion with this line. There is none. The latter line was built by the Furness Railway Co and connected the southern end of Windermere (the lake) with their line at Pl! umpton, leading thence to Barrow. Through trains also ran to the main line at Carnforth. By the way, one should not really say Lake Windermere: this is an unfortunate modernism. The lake is called simply Windermere. If one must add a further generic term, it should follow the name in correct Lakeland or Cumbrian style, thus: Windermere lake or Lake (as opposed to Windermere town). - With thanks, John Campbell (native of Bowness)

Bowness on Windermere Town Details

Grasmere

Grasmere Gingerbread. One of the true culinary delights of Britain, Grasmere gingerbread even has a good if sad story behind it, made by Sarah Nelson in the second half of the 19th century to support her poor family, she continued making it when her daughters and husband had died leaving her alone. Still made in Church Cottage by St Oswald’s churchyard, the gingerbread is so far removed from the characterless gingerbread men sold in supermarkets as to be a separate species, indeed Sarah Nelson’s is trademarked to protect it from imitators.This gingerbread is crumbly and moist, with a flavour that lingers warmly in the mouth. The texture is soft enough hardly to need biting. If you visit do not make the mistake of buying just a little and trying it later, it will only mean a return journey if you are still in the area, or bitter regret if you have moved on.- Brian

Forget Tweedies or The Lamb Inn, tucked away on the end of the Wordsworth Hotel is the real locals bar with real people just enjoying a laugh and a quiet drink. This is where the bar staff go to drink,that says it all really !!!!!!! - Bob

Grasmere Town Details

Kendal

A foodie taking a break in a cottage in the Northwest? For a quick way to stock up on regional produce, regional specialities, organic vegetables and the finer things in life, try Booths Supermarkets. They have 26 stores, a few in Cheshire and North Yorkshire but most in Lancashire and Cumbria. They stock real local cheeses including Kirkham’s Lancashire, possibly the best cheese on the planet; locally made sticky toffee pudding; local bottled beers; and meat including Holker Hall salt marsh lamb (all their meat sourced within the four counties they serve).

Kendal Town Details

Keswick

A foodie taking a break in a cottage in the Northwest? For a quick way to stock up on regional produce, regional specialities, organic vegetables and the finer things in life, try Booths Supermarkets. They have 26 stores, a few in Cheshire and North Yorkshire but most in Lancashire and Cumbria. They stock real local cheeses including Kirkham’s Lancashire, possibly the best cheese on the planet; locally made sticky toffee pudding; local bottled beers; and meat including Holker Hall salt marsh lamb (all their meat sourced within the four counties they serve).

Keswick Town Details

St Bees

If you should happen to be visiting this lovely little town make sure to pay a call to Platform 9,either for a meal or just for a drink. It is right beside the station and is set out like the interior of the old-style trains - christine

St Bees Town Details

Tebay

Those driving up to Cumbria from the South to go self-catering should consider dropping in on Tebay Services to stock up on food and drink. The best, cleanest, and friendliest services in the entire country they also have their own butchery (beef and lamb mostly from their own farm) with great local meat and sausages, and a more than worthy deli. The beer selection is brilliant too, local and regional ales aplenty. And the pies are great too. Martin

Tebay Town Details

Whitehaven

The harbour area once a hub of trade has now become a harbour side that has a positively continental feel! The bars in this area are a must to visit and enjoy stunning views whilst enjoying a drink or a bite. - Sheena

Whitehaven Town Details

Windermere

The Glenburn Hotel in Windermere is a lovely relaxing place to stay with homemade scones and coffee to greet you on arrival. Great location free car park on site and just a short walk into Windermere and The Lake in Bowness.....Mackem Pete

The Lakes is a wonderful place to go, especially in spring or autumn, even if it is rather expensive to stay there! Whilst there though, taking the car ferry across Lake Windermere is a must – it’s an experience in itself queuing to board the ferry down a very narrow lane but then the views when afloat are simply spectacular & definitely worth it. Cathryn …. regular tourist

A foodie taking a break in a cottage in the Northwest? For a quick way to stock up on regional produce, regional specialities, organic vegetables and the finer things in life, try Booths Supermarkets. They have 26 stores, a few in Cheshire and North Yorkshire but most in Lancashire and Cumbria. They stock real local cheeses including Kirkham’s Lancashire, possibly the best cheese on the planet; locally made sticky toffee pudding; local bottled beers; and meat including Holker Hall salt marsh lamb (all their meat sourced within the four counties they serve).

Windermere Town Details

Cumbria County Page | Cumbria Attractions| More Tips

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On this day:
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